39 days and 20 contestants later, tonight we will finally find out who will be the Sole Survivor of "Survivor: Blood vs. Water," the show's 27th season. Yes, it's hard to believe that we are nearing the end of yet another season, but what a refreshing season it has been.
Many fans and critics alike were worried - very worried - when the concept of the Blood vs. Water season was announced. It seemed like a drastic change to our beloved game and included so many new rules that it took many of us a good bit of time to catch up on all of the new twists that were introduced. Former Survivors competing against/with their loved ones? Sounded interesting. The return of Redemption Island? Getting nervous. The ability to swap out with your loved one? How will that work? A Day One instant vote off from each tribe? To quote Gary Coleman, "Watchu talkin' bout, Jeff Probst?"
So who would have thought that all of these twists and turns would lead to even more, unexpected wrinkles in the game? There was a newness - a freshness - that laced this entire season. For the first time in years, the players truly didn't seem to know what to expect, what was coming next, or what was the the best way to handle their unique situations.
Because of these new twists, we enter tonight's Finale Episode with seven players still alive...well, their "aliveness" in the game varies, but seven remain nonetheless. Three of them - Hayden, Tina and Laura Morett - will battle tonight in the final Duel of the season, where two of them will finish in sixth and seventh place and the winner will re-enter the game. That winning person will join Ciera, Monica, Tyson and Gervase, rounding out the game's Final Five and setting the stage for the last two Immunity Challenges that will ultimately reveal to us the Final Three that will set in front of the jury.
The only real hint that we have about tonight's episode is revealed to us in the CBS synopsis:
Finale Episode – “It’s My Night” - AFTER 39 GRUELING DAYS, ONE CASTAWAY WILL BE CROWNED THE SOLE SURVIVOR ON A SPECIAL 2-HOUR SEASON FINALE OF “SURVIVOR: BLOOD VS. WATER,” FOLLOWED BY A ONE-HOUR LIVE REUNION SHOW, SUNDAY, DEC. 15. After 39 grueling days, one castaway will be crowned the Sole Survivor and awarded $1 million on a special two-hour season finale of SURVIVOR: BLOOD VS. WATER, Sunday, Dec. 15 (8:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT), followed by a one-hour live reunion show hosted by Jeff Probst (10:00 –11:00PM, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network. It’s do or die as castaways battle at the final Redemption and the final three castaways face a harsh jury at an emotional tribal council.
Analysis. What doesn't come as a shock from this description is the confirmation that we will yet again have a Final Three (as opposed to a Final Two, which many clamor for a return to). But by revealing that it is a "harsh jury at an emotional tribal council," it appears that we are surely in for the annoying "bitter jury."
Does that bode well for the players remaining who "deserve" to win based on their gameplay? Or will we have another Samoa, where Natalie White won over Russell Hantz, more as a vote against Russell as opposed to judging who outplayed, outwitted and outlasted?
If it is indeed a bitter jury, that doesn't bode well for the likes of Tyson, who is probably the focal point of the jury's frustrations. It may also point to the fact that he will be there in that Final Three. Surely, he is in the driver's seat with a clear path to the Final Three.
When the Duel winner re-enters the game, that person will still be in the minority along with Ciera, with Monica having really shown her loyalty to Tyson and Gervase (those three being in the majority). So unless they win Immunity, the Duel winner (Hayden/Laura/Tina) will probably be sent right out of the game.
Remember too, that Tyson still has an Idol and must play it at the next Tribal...so no matter how you slice it (barring an incredibly bone-headed "no play" move by Tyson), Tyson should be in the Final Four. The most interesting re-entry would be that of Laura, who would reunite with her daughter, Ciera, even though the two of them would be outnumbered. But at that point in the game, maybe Monica would finally be coerced into making a big move?
As always this late in the game, the Immunity Challenges are so incredibly important. We will probably see the Duel winner go first, or if they win Immunity we will see Ciera sent packing. That means that in the next round at four, the Duel winner (or Ciera, if she is in the game instead of the Duel winner), must win Immunity to reach the finals. Otherwise, it will be Monica, Gervase and Tyson, as they have the odds in their favor of reaching the end.
Unless there is a major change of heart, or an Immunity run, we are likely to see these three in the finals. So the question becomes, who would win? Honestly, it looks like Tyson should be the one who wins, but a bitter jury could give Monica some votes instead. Gervase seems to be the third wheel, a player who was seen as mostly being in Tyson's shadow, whose emotional outbursts have really seemed to turn off the members of the jury. So if that's the case, could Monica win? In this scenario, the jury would consist of eight people - Aras, Vytas, Caleb, Katie, Hayden, Laura, Tina and Ciera. Don't count her out: I think Monica would have a chance at landing four or five of those votes to nab a win.
So who do you think will win Survivor? Will the odds-on-favorite trio of Tyson, Gervase and Monica actually be able to make the Final Three? Who will return from Redemption Island? It will all be revealed tonight! And don't miss my full recap of the Finale Episode and the Live Reunion Show late tonight.
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Then you can join me Monday for my exclusive one-on-one exit interview with the winner of Survivor, as well as interviews with each voted off castaway from the Finale Episode.
By Tuesday, we will wrap this season up when I release my updated lists of "most memorable" Survivor seasons as well as the all-time Winners list. Where will this season and its winner rank all-time? Check back Tuesday.
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